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Loss . . . continued, the dark clouds part, maybe a sighting

I continued day and night to search the big blocks of woods and fields on the 4-wheeler, calling, never before realizing just how big our neighboring landscape could be when you're searching for one small dog, and otherwise riding the roads around their perimeters searching with dread the ditches, heart in my throat every second of what I might find. At this point, we had no idea of whether Edie was alive or dead, or where in the world she might be. Coyotes were still a high probability, but we were almost equally convinced that if she were still alive, someone had her. Anything loomed a possibility. We kept circulating flyers, encouraging Facebook sharing, as you know. Praying the phone would ring on one hand, and dreading if it did on the other. By now, hundreds and hundreds of of good people were watching, looking, with us. It helped hugely to keep us going.

Then the first really encouraging break came, to replenish hope.

Routinely continuing to search on the 4-wheeler, I turned into the home and shop of a good friend and neighbor about a mile and a half from home, who farms much of the land in the area. When I pulled into the shop, thankfully he was there, and immediately related he thought he had seen Edie two and a half hours before on a nearby, small knoll in a backfield just west of the road, had tried to get her to come to him, her immediate reaction to turn and run. "I'm not sure," he repeated, "but I'm 95% sure." His description was very credible. He told me where to look, and gave me access to the land, for which I'll ever be thankful. I flew out of the drive, down the road to where he had seen what he thought was her, my heart racing. I spent the rest of the day and most of the night riding through the woods and fields and trails, calling and looking. Nothing. But the chances that it was indeed her were strong, being a logical place she could have been, and it not only replenished hope that she was still alive and surviving - which was immense - but answered at least one of the many questions: if it was her, nobody had picked her up and was holding her. It also strongly inferred that when she was lost for whatever reasons, she had crossed into the big block in front of our house, rather than gone down the vast creek bottom behind, which we had been searching most intensely to that point.

Thus we redirected the primary intensity of our search to the large wood blocks to the east.

But if it was her, which we dearly wanted to believe, she didn't come to me, and much as I wished, I never saw her.

The next morning I placed one of my jackets at a strategic backfield location near where the dog was seen, some food, hoping she would return and stay. "Give me three others," my friend said, and did the same at three other places in the vicinity. We checked them morning, noon and night, but if she came, there was never sign of it. I kept searching the surrounding area, nothing. Based on what would happen later, I believe it was indeed Edie, but that she had crossed out of that block and into another big one to the north the day he had seen her.

We were back to hoping and waiting for a phone call, despair setting in once more. But I, along with a host of others, kept looking, looking, hoping. It's all there was. Nights were tormented by anxiety and dread, a relentless, torturous churning of what could be happening to her, dying inside that she was having to go through it, minute by minute if it was her, was she still alive, she had been a good, little dog and never deserved this, and the realization that hour by hour the jeopardy increased that we would never see her again. On the roof, the cruel, cold, freezing rain pounding down. It was horror ten times over, and would basically continue and grow for another week. She was fighting tremendous odds, that were increasing geometrically.

I had been warned of another thing by several professionals in the pet recovery business, that after only a few days, if she survived, the wilder and more untrusting she would become, like a feral cat. Nevertheless, I still held to the hope and belief that if I could get close to her and she would look at me, she would come to me. There was an eight year trust-bond between us that argued reasonably for that. All my dog years argued for that.

I was wrong.

Tomorrow: a dreadful week, Loretta helplessly waiting for the phone to ring, hoping, me ever looking, suddenly a second sighting!

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